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Election 2016: Balloting leaves only 1 Democrat holding countywide office

Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Republicans watching the race for county treasurer at the Board of Elections and Voter Registration didn’t worry when Allison Sippel Peteet trailed Democrat Chelice Cox Waites in early returns Tuesday.

Those first precincts were from the city of Georgetown, county GOP chairman Randy Hollister said. He knew the Waccamaw Neck would favor the Republican. Peteet defeated Waites by almost 4,500 votes: 17,510-13,053. She will replace retiring treasurer Loretta Washington-Cooper at the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2017.

“Awesome,” Peteet described the feeling of victory. “The Republican Party made a lot of phone calls for me in the last few weeks. That helped a lot.”

Waites wished Peteet well as the county’s next treasurer. “I didn’t win, but I’m fine,” she said. “I was prepared either way.”

Waites said she met people and made lasting friendships during her campaign and found that voters want their elected officials to be qualified and have their interests at heart. “I want to thank everybody for supporting me,” she said. “Those who voted for me, I appreciate their confidence and belief in me. I am ready for the next step.”

Waites was not convinced that a Democrat can’t win a county-wide race, even though Republicans hold all but one office. “I think this election nationally had a lot to do with it,” she said. “This was a good race, and there was not that big a gap. You just never know what people are thinking.”

Waites’ loss leaves Clerk of Court Alma White as the only Democrat elected in a county-wide race. She had no opposition this year. Republicans won the remainder. Sheriff Lane Cribb defeated challengers Darryel Carr and Birt Adams in the only other contested race. Carr, a Democrat, won 38.7 percent of the vote. Adams, an independent, won 2.3 percent.

Auditor Brian Shult, Coroner Kenny Johnson and Probate Court Judge Leigh Powers Boan were unopposed.

Dedric Bonds, chairman of the Georgetown County Democratic Party, says it’s time for a re-evaluation. “I was disappointed for Team Waites because I know how much they tried to run a real campaign,” he said. “As chair of the party, I did see the work that Mrs. Waites put in. It’s disappointing because she tried to reach out to as many residents across the county as she could. Nevertheless, residents of the county have spoken. We honor and respect the body politic.”

Bonds said he’s already thinking about what Georgetown County Democrats need to do to remain relevant. “What we have now is a new opportunity for activists and change agents to be birthed,” he said. “I see democracy as ever-living, ever-growing, ever-changing. As a result we have to keep up with it. If not, we will continue to have elections dominated by a one-party system. We are seeing fruits of the Southern Strategy still being played out. There’s plenty more work to do. That’s what this election has shown.”

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